By DAVID HILL
At least one candidate from outside the sitting council is standing to be Kaikoura’s next mayor.
Rob Roche, who has considerable experience dealing with the council, says he intends to seek the mayoralty, following the announcement by three-term mayor Winston Gray that he will not seek re-election in this year’s local body elections.
This year’s elections will result in new mayors elected in the Kaikoura, Waimakariri and Hurunui districts, with all incumbents stepping down.
None of seven sitting Kaikoura councillors have signalled a bid for the mayoralty at this stage, and some may not even stand for re-election, citing exhaustion after the 2016 earthquake.
Mr Roche is a former Innovative Waste Kaikoura general manager and has been working for North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) as its wellbeing and rehabilitation adviser since the quake.
“I’ve had contact with the council in various capacities over the last 20-odd years and we’ve had plenty of positive contact over the years, so I’m looking forward to getting back into the fold.
“My hope is people will feel like they’re contributing to the community and I can be a conduit between the community and the council.
“It’s about empowering people and I hope to lead with my heart as much as my head.”
Rumours are circulating that former councillor Darlene Morgan is also standing for mayor. While she has heard the rumours, she says she has yet to make a decision.
Ms Morgan unsuccessfully contested the mayoralty in 2013 and 2016, losing to Mr Gray by just 44 votes in the last election.
Cr Craig Mackle has announced he will seek re-election as a councillor, while his colleagues Deputy Mayor Cr Julie Howden and Crs Tony Blunt, Derrick Millton, Lisa Bond, Celeste Harnett and Neil Pablecheque are undecided, some citing the toll the earthquakes had taken.
Cr Mackle, who chairs the pool working group, says he wants to see the council’s recovery work through to its conclusion, including the new community pool.
“The drive from the community to get in behind the pool and from the commercial sector, offering to do things in kind, is just amazing.”
Cr Howden says the council has been working hard to ensure that “out of adversity comes prosperity”.
“There’s a lot of exciting things coming up that I would be mad if I wasn’t a part of.”
Cr Blunt says he feels “duty bound” to stand again and hopes to sit down with his family soon before announcing his intentions.
“We have been averaging 70 days of meetings and workshops a year at
council instead of the normal 20 days, and the quake has had a huge impact on me and my family.”
Cr Harnett is likely to stand again and says “it would be nice to think someone else would put their hand up from the runanga, because it gets a bit lonely around the council table”.
Cr Bond is also the marketing manager for WhaleWatch and says, after the busy summer, she had not had time to consider her future on the council.
Former deputy mayor and former mayoral candidate Cr Pablecheque says“people really only make up their mind a couple of months out from the election and there’s plenty of work to do before then”.
Cr Millton says while he is ready to step back, he would be willing to stand
again to ensure there is some experience around the council table as it continues its recovery work.